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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

November 29, 2008

SnowmanCity, NY

Filed under: Procrastination Punditry,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 8:02 pm

It was serendipity (not synecdoche) that brought me this afternoon to the counter of my favorite book and gift shop, The Open Door Bookstore, on the Jay Street pedestrian mall in downtown Schenectady.  I had just left our Central Public Library, two blocks away, and thought I’d stop in quickly at the Open Door for my only shopping of this post-Thanksgiving weekend.   While waiting for the woman ahead of me to wrangle a discount on a couple of children’s books, I was pleasantly surprised to see — prominently displayed on the main counter — a book written by freelance illustrator and cartoonist Bob Eckstein, which we had fondly discussed last February here at f/k/a (and which would make a great Holiday-Christmas gift for anybody with a sense of playfulness, love of history, or attraction to conversation-starting coffee-table books with lots of interesting pictures):

The History of the Snowman: From the Ice Age to the Flea Market” (2007)

Immediately thereafter, I was even more surprised by a flier in a display behind the book, showing a smiling Bob and announcing a related book signing event:

The Open Door Bookstore, Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008 1 pm

Book Presentation and Signing

Bob Eckstein signs, The History of the Snowman: From the Ice Age to the Flea Market. This fascinating holiday book includes a section on the Stockade. Mr Eckstein will give an illustrated  talk at the Schenectady County Public Library. From 1:45-3:15, there will be a book signing at the store.

Then, however, as I gazed at that slight smirk on Bob’s face, a little voice in my head whined: “Hey, I’ve plugged the book; I got the Schenectady Public Library to purchase a couple copies of it; and I’ve linked several times to Bob’s Today’s Snowman weblog.  So, why hasn’t he given me a heads-up (viz., a personal private invitation) for the library presentation and book signing?”

My next thought: “Well, I’ll show him.  I’ll write all about the events at my weblog, and show up next Sunday at both the Library and the store.”  Thus, was this posting inspired — at a time when I was really intending to write a much more serious piece about lawyers (proving that the holiday season has not dulled my procrastination skills).

Naturally, I shot over to Today’s Snowman to see what was happening in the world of flakey frozen aqueous sculpture. Now that we’re back to cold weather, Bob has started his monthly Snowman Contest up again (with “possible prizes” relating to his book and its marketing).  He continues to have Snowperson Personal Ads, while also answering Questions For the Snowman Expert.  And, of course, you’ll find regular posting about interesting snow-creature-related news and endless promotion of The Book (including links to a sneek peek and a chapter-by-chapter pictorial YouTube Preview).

Although Bob promised back in October to put his book tour schedule and itinerary up at his weblog, I couldn’t find it.  Maybe he doesn’t know he’s supposed to be in Schenectady on December 7th.

Could I have been unfair to Bob by fretting over the Snowman Snubbing of his biggest fan in Schenectady? (Even bigger, we’re sure, than the Older Family, who live in a nearby suburb and constructed The Great Rotterdam Snowman, which won the February 2008 Snowman Contest at Today’s Snowman; see our report and analysis.)

Since my Invitation might just be delayed in the mail, I’m going to throw in another marketing plug for Bob and the book:

..  .. History of the Snowman Mugs are now available from the website, and can be purchased at his book tour events for $10.

If you live near Schenectady, come and join my combination peaceful protest and fan club outing, next Sunday, December 7, 2008, at 11 PM, at 99 Clinton Street, in downtown Schenectady. [Our friends at the Rotterdam Internet Community are especially invited.] If you need another local tie-in, check our prior post, where we discuss at length the role purportedly played by snowmen in a pivotal piece of local history — the 1690 Schenectady Massacre. Until I read about it at Today’s Snowman, I had not known about those brave (if feckless) snowmen, who some say stood guard just a couple blocks from my home here in the historic Schenectady Stockade. [Learn more at Wikipedia.]

larger . . Eckstein displays a fine sketch from the book of the Stockade Snow Guards in a posting at his site, and retells the tale in Chapter 12 of The History of the Snowman, titled Early American Snowmen, 17th Century New World, Fresh Snow (at pp. 110 – 112, which can be read in full by scrolling down this preview of the book).  In The History of the Snowman, Bob asks: “Was the first snowman in America made in Schenectady, New York, on the eve of one of the bloodiest days in early American history?” He concludes: “We may never know whether this was the first American snowman, but the Schenectady Snowman is definitely the earliest reference to one

Well, I’ve procrastinated long enough to make it virtually impossible to finish my originally-intended posting this evening without a lot of sturm und drang.  What more could I ask of Bob Eckstein on a chilly, lonely Saturday night?  Thanks, Bob, and see you next Sunday!

p.s. I just this minute learned at Bob’s website that: “Bob is going to be on the radio talking about snowmen on 810AM Sunday at 9:15am (News Talk Radio WGY) in the upstate New York area (I kid you not).”  That’s The Joe Gallagher Show, which I usually wake up to on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

update (Nov. 30, 2008): We might have to adjust our motto that Whining Doesn’t Work, because Bob Eckstein put a post up late last night at his Freelancer’s Lament weblog, that could melt even a crusty old snowmudgeon’s heart:

“I hope to see many friends I’ve made online through the book, many who helped me on the book. I want to thank David Giacalone and Laura Lee Linder in particular for making me feel welcome to return to Schenectady in a few days. (Laura was helpful in the actual research of my book, The History of the Snowman and is very involved with The Schenectady County Historical Society and First Reformed Church of Schenectady. She is finishing a DVD on historical Schenectady. Further info on David just posted a generous write-up of my upcoming event and has a very cool website which is a unusual combination of haiku, law stuff and snowman interests. Right, you have to see it to believe it. I was just enjoying a piece about a sexy lawyers calendar!)”

In the Sidebar of Freelancer’s Lament, you will find the impressive (and growing) itinerary for Bob’s History of the Snowman tour, including radio interviews (such as one on Martha Stewart Radio, Dec. 5th at 7:15 AM).

update (Dec. 7, 2008): See “snowman historian blows into Schenectady.”

in the howling wind
under the full moon
the snowman, headless

…….. by George Swede from Almost Unseen

(photo by Mama G., 1953)

the smirking snowman
a hatless scarecrow

…………… by dagosan

naughty child–
instead of his chores
a snow Buddha

….. by Kobayashi Issa – translated by David G. Lanoue


  1. hilarious post. :D peaceful protest indeed. and some rather interesting snowman information to boot.

    Comment by kouji — November 30, 2008 @ 7:09 am

  2. We aim (our snowballs) to please, Kouji. Thanks for noticing.

    Comment by David Giacalone — November 30, 2008 @ 7:59 am

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